Wheel alignment, or tire alignment, is recommended as a routine car maintenance procedure. But what exactly is it? Read this brief guide before learning about wheel alignment-why you should do it, and how to do it:
Why Does My Car Need Wheel Alignment?
Wheel alignment is recommended to help your vehicle’s tires perform optimally. Wheel alignment helps your car drive properly by preventing pulling in one direction because of tire issues. It also prevents the car from experiencing strange vibrations en route. Also, wheel alignment helps each tire last longer so you don’t have to spend a lot of money on tire replacement.
How is Wheel Alignment Done?
Despite popular belief, wheel alignment doesn’t refer to actually changing the wheels or the tires of the car. It refers to adjusting the suspension of your car. An automotive mechanic can adjust the suspension to fix the angles of the tires. The angles affect how the tires perform on the road. Fixing these angles is therefore important to keep tires in proper contact with the road.
When Does Your Car Require Wheel Alignment?
Wheel alignment is sometimes done as a routine maintenance task. But there are other telling indicators that your car needs to undergo wheel alignment. For example, if you feel like your car is pulling in one direction when on the road, or if there are unexplained vibration issues, then your vehicle requires wheel alignment without delay. There are other signs as well, such as the steering wheel being off centre when driving down straight, uneven wear on tire treads, and vibrating steering wheels. Wheel alignment cannot be put off without risking road accidents.
What are Signs of Improper Wheel Alignment?
Bad wheel alignment makes your tires wear out quickly and unevenly. Uneven tread wear is called “feathering”, which happens when tires are smooth on one side but not the other. The interior or the exterior of the tire tread could end up being more worn than the centre when tire alignment is off. This accelerates wear. Uneven tread wear puts your vehicle at risk on the road, especially on rainy days when the roads are wet.
Is Wheel Alignment the Same as Tire Balancing?
Tire balancing is a different procedure from wheel alignment. Tire balancing refers to correcting weight imbalances among tires. Mechanics typically do tire balancing along wheel alignment, especially if the tires have already undergone some wear. But these two procedures are distinct. Tire balancing requires special machines and only a professional can do the procedures.
How Do Mechanics Perform Wheel Alignment?
Car mechanics look at three things to do wheel alignment. First, the mechanic takes the camber of the tire into consideration. Camber means the angle of the tire as seen from the front of the car. If the tires are too inward or outward facing, then that’s a sign requiring wheel alignment. Mechanics also look at toe alignment, which is how inward or outward facing the tires are when looked at from above. Then, the caster angle is considered-which is the angle of the car’s steering wheel axis.
Don’t forget to include wheel alignment in your car’s routine maintenance plan. It’s important to the longevity of the tires as well as the overall safety of the vehicle.